April 10, 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.
President Obama said that because President Johnson signed this bill, “New doors of opportunities and education swung open for everybody.” Agreed! I as he was among that group.
As a ten year old girl living in the heart of the Mississippi delta in a “no traffic light, drive through the entire community in five minutes town,” I vividly remember the celebratory mood of my parents, the Black residents, the civil rights activists and freedom fighters who had emerged upon our racially segregated town. Glen Allan, Mississippi, was and is a community where an invisible line of racial demarcation determined who lived where. The Black population resides in the colloquial labeled “Back” and the Whites live on the “Front” – sections ; then and now.
Without question, April 10, 1964 left a lasting impression. On this day, I intensely remember that a prominent White businessman made his historic statement that rang loudly through the “Front” and the “Back” section of town. Actions always speak louder than words, but we were told that this White businessman had a number of colorful choice words, mostly profanity and racial epithets that accompanied the flamboyant deed that he was about to perform. He aimed his gun and shot President Johnson. That’s right! He gunned down the President! He didn’t miss him because he shot the Prez on his living room television set as he appeared with Martin Luther King and others signing the historic Civil Rights Act! It was a remote, well orchestrated assassination of President Johnson’s actions! Thus, on April 10, 1964, the Civil Rights bill was celebrated with one less television set in Mississippi amidst thousands of doors being “swung opened” nationally for the disenfranchised “have nots.” On this past Thursday, I witnessed the inaugural 50th Anniversary salute as I watched four American Presidents at the LBJ Library in my living room on my television set!
Photo reprint: www.lbjlibrary.org